Madame Bovary often uses a subjective third person point of view. What effect does this method have on the reader's impression of Emma?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Flaubert uses the third person narrative as a way to enhance his style of realism that he made so uniquely his own.  In Madame Bovary, this realist style drives the novel.  This realistic style helps formulate our understanding of Emma as it assembles for us the various challenges and formidable elements that made life difficult, if not virtually impossible, for Emma.  Given her forays into Romanticism and fueled by Romantic literature, the configuration of the world makes success for Emma quite difficult.  Emma's desire to appropriate the world in accordance to her Romantic subjectivity sets her up for failure in a world where the likes of terrifying rationality of Homais and the abandonment of Rodolphes reign supreme.  In the third person manner of narration, the reader begins to appreciate the predicament in which Emma is placed.  This does not absolve her from responsibility for her predicament, but rather allows the reader to fully understand why what happens to her and her family is almost inevitable.

akasha124 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the case of Madame Bovary, the third person point of view is supposed to detach us somewhat both from the main character (Emma) and the bourgeois society she lives in.

However, this particular style of narration in this instance is supposed to give us sympathy and empathy with Emma, which balances out the detachment.  Emma is not the most easily lovable character as she isn't always the smartest or kindness character to ever grace a book, but she's very human.  The third person standpoint makes it easier to get immersed into the romantic world she immersed herself in to escape the boredom of her life and it makes it easier to understand why she tended towards escapism to begin with.

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Madame Bovary

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